Here’s a phrase few people are using in reference to the White House during the past two weeks: So far so good . . .
. . . for the American LGBT community at least, which has feared with good reason that the Trump administration might override former President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order granting LGBT people legal protection in the workplace and beyond.
And they might have Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner to thank for it, according to Politico and other media outlets, who say the couple urged Donald Trump to issue a clear statement saying Obama’s order will be upheld.
Politico says the couple are leading the resistance to scuttle a supposed draft anti-LGBT executive order that, if signed, would give people the right to discriminate on the basis of religious freedom.
On Tuesday night, the White House released a statement saying:
“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”
The White House also said later that the controversial draft order was one of hundreds being considered and that it would never have reached the president’s desk.
In other words, score two points for Ivanka and Jared for keeping Obama’s order intact and for quashing the draft religious order.
But the game is not over yet. Those in favour of an order to support religious freedom to discriminate against LGBT people haven’t given up. The National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, has started a petition urging Donald Trump to sign the executive order that they say was “leaked to the gay media in an attempt to derail it, allowing LGBT activists to orchestrate a false campaign claiming that protecting religious liberty is discrimination against gays and lesbians.”
Because discriminating against LGBT people in the name of a mythical god is not really discrimination, you see . . . but I digress. (Must be objective, yes?)
The draft states that the government shall take no punitive action against organizations, businesses, and even public employees acting “in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life.”
In other words, people could discriminate against lesbians, gay men, bisexual people and transgender people by claiming they are doing so in the name of some god.
At the time of this writing, the petition has a grand total of 3,604 signatures, not exactly a huge endorsement. Compare that with the one in Britain opposing a visit by Donald Trump, which has garnered some 2 million names, if I am not mistaken — and is growing.
Why the low number on NOM’s petition, I wonder. Maybe because the vast majority of people don’t really give a damn, at least not enough to sign such a petition let alone discriminate in business. And business is something Donald Trump understands very well. Besides the fact that he supports LGBT people and his daughter supports LGBT people, he knows that LGBT people have a lot of money in the United States –and a lot of power. The last thing he needs right now is a war with the LGBT community and its many supporters.
So, at the federal level for now, it appears to be smooth sailing for LGBT rights, and LGBT people can join others in opposition to Trump’s other executive orders.
But it’s early days in the kingdom of “Trumplandia,” as my journalist friend Ray calls it. Trump is reportedly getting some pushback from Republicans as well as millions of citizens on other issues. Who knows how long he will remain in office? But as long as he and Ivanka are occupying the White House, LGBT people can breathe a little easier. (A little, I said, not a lot.)
— Jillian Page
Note: This commentary was first posted on my personal blog at jillianpage.com.